Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How did I get here? Donna

Bonswa Everyone,
Today was a very surreal day. We had a meeting in the morning with the director of the hospital and she agreed we were very useful yesterday and should stay and work. (Yeah!). She had a visit, while I was in her office, from a representative of Handicap International. He invited both of us an “organizational meeting” in the afternoon at a hospital by the airport. I agreed to go and at 2:00pm found myself at a large table with the Haitian Secretary of State, the Minister of Health, a rep from the World Health Organization, the head of Handicap International, representatives of rehab groups from Israel, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Sierra Leone and France, the directors of two hospitals and me! I kept thinking, “How did I get here”? Thank goodness we had already decided I was with the “Midwest Therapy Group” so at least I sounded official. When I introduced myself and said we were hoping to partner with HCH to set up an out-patient center for rehab, the eyes of several people at the table lit up. What I learned is that right now everyone is being released from the hospitals and rehab centers into the community but there are no organized services for them to follow up with therapists for injuries, wheelchair fitting or prosthetic fittings. Several representatives wanted my information so they could begin to send patients. One man from Germany told me he has many all terrain wheelchairs he is having shipped from Turkey and wanted an out-patient facility to send them to as they would be most useful for community mobility. It turns out he is the head of the German group that has been at Hope Hospital ! He said they brought one PT with them but could not find any other PT volunteers to come from Germany . I told him we were to work there, but now have established ourselves at HCH. We may end up at both places!
The HCH director was open to setting up a prosthetic follow- up clinic at the hospital and I have a contact in Chicago who has set up clinics in Guatemala . He may be able to do that for us. The director is planning to send out people to the tent cities to find patients with rehab needs and begin to bring them to us at HCH. So we’ve got to get ourselves organized soon!
This has quickly become so much bigger than me or anything my imagination could have contemplated. I think we can do this, but will need more funding and therapy volunteers. I am confident we can organize and have a clinic in place by the time the first three teams are done in April. I need to find a team for April 23 to May 9 so we do not have a gap in services just when we are getting going. Pray for some volunteers for me or send your friends some
Our team’s best moment today was when one of the translators who is working with us told us he was so impressed with how we are interacting with and treating the patients. He said, “You look in their eyes, you touch them, it is so obvious you truly care.” He said the Haitian doctors and nurses do not treat the patients that way. He told us he just wanted to say “Thank you” on behalf of all the people we were helping.
It feels so right and so good to be of service here.
Please keep us and the new Physio Therapy Clinic in your prayers,

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